Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that can be caused by many things, including viruses, alcohol, and drugs. The most common viruses that attack the liver are hepatitis A, B and C.
Hepatitis A and B can be prevented with vaccinations, which you can get from your provider or from our Immunization Clinic. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A, which spreads from person to person by the fecal-oral route by means such as poor hand-washing practices, eating uncooked food prepared by an infected person, and sexual contact. Hepatitis A does not become chronic, meaning you will not remain sick over time. Once your body fights off the illness, a lifetime immunity develops.
The hepatitis A vaccine is the best way to prevent an infection.
Anyone who comes in contact with the blood, semen, or other bodily fluids of an infected person may contract hepatitis B. Hepatitis B can be transmitted from mother to child at birth. A person who develops chronic (life-long) hepatitis B infection is at risk for developing serious liver disease. The hepatitis B vaccine is the best way to prevent an infection.
Hepatitis B prevention for pregnant women
Newborns who are exposed to Hepatitis B infection have a 9 in 10 chance of developing chronic, lifelong infections that lead to deadly liver diseases. In 2013, the Snohomish Health District’s Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program provided case management to 141 pregnant mothers who were at risk to transmit Hepatitis B to their infants.
Our public health nurse works with doctors, hospitals, and their patients so that babies get two shots within 12 hours after birth (hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin). After the delivery, we continue to work with doctors to ensure follow-up care is provided.
Baby Boomers (born between 1945 and 1965) and people who inject drugs are at highest risk to contract hepatitis C. Most people infected with hepatitis C do not know they have the disease until liver damage shows up in medical tests decades after first getting infected with the virus.
There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. A blood test can determine whether or not you are infected. Knowing your hepatitis C status can help you to learn:
- How to protect your liver from further harm
- How to prevent spreading hepatitis to others
- Whether treatment is needed or available